#15: New year, old message

28th December, 2020

Welcome to the Idiot Money newsletter. This week, a quick reminder that my offer to help you sort out your finances expires on Sunday.

If you're after something longer to read, there's a whole book's worth here (and if you want a 'nudge', a few wise souls have told me recently that they've found this distinction between philosophy-based and psychology-based solutions to our screwy relationships with money handy).

1. Want help sorting your finances?

Thank you to all those who've sent me answers to the questions I asked last week about what sorting your finances would look like to you. I'll round up the answers, together with the closest I'll ever get to a 'just tell me what to do' checklist next week.

If you'd like to ensue your own questions are covered, please hit reply and share your thoughts. If the list is too much, tell me the ONE thing you'd most like to know or sort out.

And if you’d like me to work with you to bring this about, let me know that too. I'll be choosing a few lucky folk on Sunday (3rd January).

Two more quick reminders:

  1. For both regulatory and being-sustainably-helpful reasons, we're talking about pointing the way and marking your homework, not doing it for you.

  2. I’m not selling anything, but this doesn’t come for free. If you’re interested in my help, you need to prove it, by telling me how much you’ll donate to EA Funds if I do. This isn’t an auction: the help goes to the best answers, not the highest numbers.

A reminder of the questions:

  • What does having your finances sorted mean to you?

  • What would it look and feel like?

  • What actions would you be taking (or not taking)?

  • What state would you be in when doing so?

  • What specific questions would you like answering?

  • What even matters about doing it?

  • And if it’s that darn important, what excuses have you used to avoid doing it already? (Both the ones your internal spin-doctor spouts, and the real ones.)

2. New year, new Twitter

For those that don't like to read things more than a couple of lines at a time, I'm going to start using Twitter properly soon. Follow along here.

3. Money Maxim of the week: New Year edition

Our words are the building blocks of our world. The metaphors that power our language are the myths by which we live. Everybody’s lexicon has a special inner circle. Words, phrases, and theories that ears can’t fail to hear across a crowded room. These Maxims are designed to interrupt our unthinking as quickly and as effectively as possible. To stop, challenge, and where helpful, rewire our relationships with money.

This week: Rule #1: Chuck out before you tidy up

So many wastes of energy, time, and money, are rooted in pointless searches for clever ways to tidy up what should’ve just been discarded. But the chance to appear ‘clever’ coupled with being wired to believe that answers are better bought than thought, can deceive us into equating clever with worthwhile.

Filter first, process second. The cleverest filing system, and fastest filing fingers in the world are an irrelevance if what you’re filing should’ve been shredded, or better yet, ignored in the first place. Before accumulating any new material or mental possessions, or organising existing ones, ask yourself: is it adding enough to my life to justify the space it’s taking up in my head or my home?

This goes for investments, too. For example, the implications of seeing all investments as gambles makes all fancy stock-picking analyses pointless. Most budgeting advice flounces around categorising crap into different buckets rather than working out how to stop spending money on stuff that doesn’t make life any better.

Clever storage solutions are better than living amid a maelstrom of pointless crap. But living without pointless crap is better yet. And living in a way that doesn’t produce pointless crap in the first place is best of all.

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